Indianapolis Colts Should Trade Peyton Manning and Draft Andrew Luck

Jason ReindollarContributor IIIJanuary 9, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 09:  Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts watches his team play the NFL game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 9, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts need to trade Peyton Manning and draft Andrew Luck. 

Why? 

Because Andrew Luck appears to be a once-in-a-generation talent? 

Because Manning's health remains uncertain? 

Because the Colts went 2-14 this season and need to rebuild? 

Because Manning, who is 35 years old, only has a few years left? 

Yes, yes, yes and yes again. 

But, more importantly, the Colts should trade Manning because he is only an average playoff quarterback. 

Manning reached the playoffs in three of his first five seasons.  The Colts went one-and-done each time.  Sound familiar?  Atlanta Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan went to 0-3 in the playoffs yesterday, and critics can't say, "Matt Ryan isn't a big-game quarterback," fast enough.

In 2003, Manning won his first MVP trophy and won his first two playoff games.  The Colts reached the AFC Championship, where they lost to the New England Patriots, 24-14.  Manning threw four interceptions.  His quarterback rating was 35.5.

Manning won his second straight MVP award in 2004.  The Colts lost to the New England Patriots in the divisional round, 20-3.  Manning threw for 238 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception.  His passer rating was 69.3.

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In 2005, the Colts lost a 21-18 nail-biter to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divisional round of the playoffs, despite receiving two huge breaks.  With only a few minutes left in the fourth quarter, the referees wrongly overturned a probable game-ending Troy Polamalu interception.

The Colts went on to score. 

After getting the ball back near the end of the game, the Colts turned it over on downs when Manning was sacked on fourth down near his own goal line.  The Steelers took over on offense, but the Colts promptly recovered a Jerome Bettis fumble, opening the door one last time.  But the Colts' Mike Vanderjagt missed a game-tying field goal as the clock ran out. 

Manning performed better—290 yards passing, one touchdown, zero interceptions, 90.9 passer rating—but it wasn't enough.

Manning got the proverbial monkey off his back by winning Super Bowl XLI in 2006. 

But his playoff numbers weren't extraordinary.  Against Baltimore in the divisional round, he threw for 170 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. 

The Colts won despite Manning and his 39.6 passer rating.  A week later, Manning finally delivered a huge playoff performance.  He led the Colts back from a 21-3 deficit to beat the New England Patriots, 38-34. 

Manning and the Colts went on to beat the Chicago Bears 29-17 in the Super Bowl.  Nevertheless, throughout the Colts' playoff run, Manning never posted a quarterback rating higher than 81.8.

Manning reached his second Super Bowl three years later.  The Colts ultimately lost Super Bowl XLIV to the New Orleans Saints, 31-17.  With 3:24 left in the game, the Colts were down 24-17.  This was seemingly the moment Manning would march down the field and tie the game, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL.  Except that didn't happen. He threw a pick-6 to the Saints' Tracy Porter and the Colts lost. 

Peyton Manning will go down as one of the best quarterbacks of all time.  He has won four MVPs and one Super Bowl MVP. 

But he isn't a clutch performer.  He has won the big one, but his overall playoff resume is merely average. 

Can Manning lead the Colts to the playoffs next year? 

Absolutely. 

But given his playoff performances, his age and his health, can he lead the 2-14 Colts to another Super Bowl victory? 

That would be a Tebow-esque miracle. 

It's time for the Indianapolis Colts to rebuild.  That starts with trading Peyton Manning and drafting Andrew Luck.